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Re-Focus On Major Investors To Move Your Chamber Forward 

The much-anticipated annual survey by GrowthZone, a leading SaaS provider for the chamber industry has been released, giving the industry some insight into the impact that COVID-19 has had on chambers of commerce. Some of those most common challenges cited were portraying the value proposition of chamber membership and shifting members’ perspective of chamber membership from transactional to transformational.

The truth is, these have always been challenges. But COVID-19 has brought them to the forefront. While shifting those perceptions is critical, it's important that you not neglect the people who already "get it" - your major investors.

The business environment has changed dramatically for your major investors. Money may be tight for some of them. And, there may be other organizations or investment opportunities trying to get their attention, and their dollars. You cannot sit idly by, assuming that they will always be part of your chamber. You must keep them informed and engaged, so they don’t lose sight of the value your organization presents for them, the community you serve and the local economy that helps their business succeed.

Major investors rarely require the same level of hand-holding that smaller businesses do. Smaller businesses typically turn to the local chamber to help grow their business and generally expect more immediate results. On the other hand, major investors engage to support actions that improve the business climate and community over the long-term. Even though they tend to be in it for the long haul, it’s incumbent upon us to keep them engaged. Failing to communicate can quickly lead to disengagement.  

Never assume major investors are familiar with your chamber’s day-to-day actions, outcomes or the challenges facing your business community. When we do a poor job of keeping investors informed, we risk losing their attention. That may lead to these business leaders shifting their investments to another organization where they feel they can have a bigger impact. This is easily avoided by taking intentional steps towards keeping major investors informed.

We suggest direct connections with major investors at least four times per year (approximately every three months). This includes three phone communications and an in-person annual review meeting. The aim is to continually keep investors updated and informed on your chamber’s political and economic actions and the ongoing challenges facing your business community. These connections also provide the opportunity to stimulate feedback and input from these important members.

Importantly, some major investors will be perfectly content knowing they are supporting your actions. Others will want to get actively engaged. You’ll need to help these members navigate the possibilities.

They will want to learn more about joining committees and attending legislative events. Naturally, these members will require more touch points while they learn about the possibilities and find their way. Take the required time to review options and follow-up to ensure they are pleased with their level of engagement.

Major investors feel more engaged when they are informed on the issues and understand what it takes to advance them. Crafting updates to answer the following questions will help you provide concise informative updates that will help major investors understand the challenges the business community is facing. Whenever possible, emphasize issues that you know are important to each member’s industry, business and/or employees.   

  • What are the critical issues that your chamber is working to resolve?
  • What are the positive or negative impacts of the issues?
  • What proactive measures are you carrying-out –– this might include coalition building, grassroots organizing, media and public relations strategies, policy actions, and the like?
  • How have recent actions improved the business climate?
  • How can each investor help?  In addition to their annual investment, some investors may want to engage personally.  They might want to provide input on an issue that is important to them personally, their company or their industry.
  • Others may want to engage on a task force or committee.

There were some positive findings in that GrowthZone survey we mentioned at the top of this article. Some chambers actually experienced growth over the past year, and stronger perceptions of value among their members. 

So, there is opportunity to shine. And you can start by focusing your energy on one of the most important segments of your membership – major investors.

If you have questions about strengthening your relationships with major investors, we're here to help.  Reach out to us anytime. 

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